HomeNewsSwipe machines replace cash for lobola payments

Swipe machines replace cash for lobola payments


JORDAN Mbanga (35) still has memories of how he left $3 500 cash in the hands of his in-laws on that Friday night in Bikita.


It was in 2012, when he and his friend moved around the tuckshops in Kuwadzana, changing the money he had into smaller denominations for convenience’s sake.

On the day, his wife-to-be, Nancy was all smiles as her family delegation kept emptying the wooden plate in which Mbanga’s negotiators put the money.

The money could have been below the expected amount, but the joy of seeing her aunt collecting some of the cash as per their culture, filled her eyes with tears.

Four years later, Mbanga has found himself in a fix. His younger brother, Donald, wants to pay lobola, but the current economic crisis that gave birth to cash shortages is a thorn in the flesh.

To circumvent the cash problem, the brothers had to hire a swipe machine and took it to the in-laws, who at first refused to buy into the idea, but had to relent because the potential son-in-law’s delegation could not access cash.

“Donald had the money in his bank account, but it was difficult to get cash. I had to talk to his fiancee to accept the use of other means of payment and it worked, although the in-laws were sceptical at first. We also used mobile money transfer and it worked well. The hassle to get cash is stressing. Finally, we were given our wife,” Jordan said.

Asked about how he paid the money known as vhuramuromo (money paid to get the in-laws speaking) as well as how his in-laws solved the kunonga (various amounts of money picked by the bride-to-be, her sisters and mother) Jordan said they jotted down all the money charged and only did one transaction to make the lobola payment.

“We agreed with the in-laws that they would later apportion the money,” he said.

Culturally, a man marrying a woman has to observe the lobola process.

This is a sign or show of love and affection when a man saves money and marries his beloved, and this is meaningful when the bride price is being paid in cash.

Harare social commentator, Admire Mare said the current lobola payment trends reflect how society is embracing technology as well as coping with the cash crisis.

He said the latest developments are welcome as long as they do not disrupt cultural practices.

“Basically, it’s a reflection of how society is dealing with cash shortages. I think payment systems will continue to evolve as new technologies come. As a society, we need to embrace these technologies as long as they don’t disrupt the lobola culture and practices,” he said.

“I think we are used to cash payments to the point that we don’t realise that colonialism institutionalised the commercialisation of the lobola culture. Long before our colonial encounters, people used traditional emblems and household goods.”

NewsDay Weekender also established that some suitors “buy cash” from dealers at Harare’s cross-border bus terminus, Road Port, and others in town.

The cash dealers are charging between 13% and 15% for any amount one would want to get, leaving the desperate suitors parting with around $120 for every transfer of $1 000.

The headache that most suitors face is about how they are going to transfer into numerous accounts of their in-laws, while some face the task of convincing the in-laws to pay half of the lobola in coins.

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